SALT LAKE CITY — Kazek, a 14-year-old Amur tiger at Hogle Zoo, died from an inflamed gastrointestinal tract and a mass growing in his small intestine, zoo officials said in a statement Friday.
The tiger, which the zoo described as a staff and community favorite, began acting differently over the past few days, said Hogle Zoo spokeswoman Erica Hansen in a statement.
She said the tiger's health declined Thursday before he died.
"He was a great cat," said Stephanie Natt, lead keeper of the tiger. "He would chuff at us to say good morning, every morning. He liked participating in his own care, eager to train and was very responsive. We're really going to miss him."
Kazek came to the Salt Lake zoo from the Buffalo Zoo in 2006. He died about a month before his 15th birthday. Amur tigers, also known as Siberian tigers, are native to eastern Russia and northern China, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Officials said Kazek was one of the zoo's more senior animals and had battled inflammatory bowel disease for about a decade. One particular flare-up of the disease led to liver failure at one point before he was nursed back to health.
The zoo's treatment of Kazek after his liver failure led to a paper published in the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine in 2014, according to Hansen. Kazek also bred with another tiger at the zoo in 2008, which led to three male cubs that were sent to other zoos.
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